House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statements by Members

Burkina Faso: Kidnappings

4:00 pm

Photo of Melissa ParkeMelissa Parke (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

It has been a relief to hear the news this weekend that Jocelyn Elliott, who was kidnapped in Burkina Faso and taken to Mali by an Al-Qaeda-linked group three weeks ago alongside her husband, Dr Ken Elliott, has been released. However, it is a matter of grave concern that Dr Elliott remains captive to the group which, on the same day as the abduction, killed 28 people in an attack on a hotel and restaurant in the capital, Ouagadougou. Dr Ken and Jocelyn Elliott are aged in their eighties. Originally from Perth, the Elliotts have spent the last 43 years in northern Burkina Faso in West Africa building and running a hospital entirely from their own resources and with donations. Theirs is the only hospital for the two million people in the area.

Dr Elliot has been performing 150 surgeries per month. Right now there are patients in the Elliotts' hospital in Djibo with no doctor to manage their treatment. The Elliotts are beloved in their local community and the statement by the kidnapper group accompanying Jocelyn Elliott's release noted the strong community pressure on behalf of the Elliotts. The Australian government has expressed thanks to the governments of Burkina Faso and Niger for their efforts in securing Jocelyn Elliott's release. It is to be hoped that Dr Ken Elliott will also be freed in the near future.

The irony is that if it were not for the kidnappings, this longstanding diligent humanitarian work carried out by these loving people in a poverty-stricken part of the world would not have been widely known in their home country. I am sure that everyone in this place would join me in paying tribute to the Elliotts as quiet heroes for humanity.